Curtin University nursing student, Julie O’Neil, recently returned from a three week fieldwork experience and cultural exchange with Burapha University in Thailand’s Chon Buri Province.
Ms O’Neil was one of 16 final year Bachelor of Science (Nursing) students who visited Thailand health facilities as part of the Global Community Health Nursing unit. The exchange program is now in its 19th year.
Mrs O’Neill, 44, from High Wycombe said it was the second time she had visited Thailand, but this time round the experience was very different.
“I first travelled to Thailand with my husband in 1988 when we went to Phuket for our honeymoon,” Ms O’Neill said.
“This time was a very different experience where I gained an understanding of the real Thailand and its generous people.
“Our experience involved visiting public and private hospitals, one of which was funded by the Thai Red Cross, rehabilitation centres and the Camillian Social Centre, an orphanage for children affected by HIV/AIDS.
“We also gained hands-on experience observing and working alongside Burapha University’s Master of Nursing students. This valuable encounter has provided me with insight into what nursing is like in a developing country.
“Thailand’s health system has changed a lot over the last 20 years and I was impressed with the health facilities I was shown.
“The Thai people were very generous with their time and knowledge. It was a fantastic educational experience, which will help me in my future nursing career.
“I was also lucky enough to meet my husband after the tour to celebrate the completion of my nursing degree and 24 years of marriage.”
Kim Coleman, unit coordinator and one of the supervisors of the group, said nursing students from Burapha University had visited Curtin University earlier in the year as part of the mutual arrangement between both universities.
“This ongoing exchange is an opportunity which helps students immerse themselves in another culture, understand other healthcare systems and work in partnership with each other,” Ms Coleman said.
“This collaboration enhances cultural diversity and develops valuable relationships, which assists our students to be better global health workers and citizens in today’s global context.”
Kristy Jones, Public Relations, Curtin University
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